Wednesday, October 20, 2010

vintage patterns: girls' outerwear edition!

First things first: in my last post, I wrote about Elvie's quilt.  Stay tuned, a tutorial is in the works!  Also, thanks so much to {KID} Independent for featuring Owlette last week!  {KID} Independent is an indie style blog for kids and parents based in Australia, a country that gives me more and more reasons to love it each day.

At a flea market last month, I found a box full of children's clothing patterns from the 1940s-60s (at the latest); I bought all of them for $10 and just about skipped home!  Here is a selection of girls' outerwear; I hope you find these as exciting as I do:

[LEFT: my favorite, Butterick size 4 girl's coat.  "The double-breasted coat with buttons to the waist.  It is nicely fitted, and has a gently flared skirt.  The back belt buttons on neatly.  This is a favorite dress-up fashion for the young miss... and it does for every day as well."  RIGHT: Advance size 8 cape and hat.]

Realistically, I know I won't make half of these.  But they serve as great style inspiration for Owlette, and I've had a difficult time tracking down vintage kid style resources.

[LEFT: Simplicity size 4 child's coat, hood and leggings.  "The flared-back coat, finished with lining, is styled with a double row of buttons and welt pockets...  In style 1, the leggings, made with suspenders, have openings at the sides and are finished with elastic casing in back.  The straps at the lower edge fasten with hammer or metal fasteners..."  CENTER: Simplicity size 4 child's one-piece dress, coat with detachable collar and hat.  RIGHT: McCall size 8 child's coat.]

[This is for my fellow lovers of technical illustrations!  I find them more useful than the pattern front.]

It is clear to me, from reading through these patterns, that our collective sewing knowledge has shrunk in the last several decades.  The reasons for this are obvious; perhaps I'll tell you what you already know in another post.  Inside of one of the patterns I found another mystery pattern, traced onto the funny papers:

[Note the date of copyright on the comic strip!]

So, readers, do you have any tips for working with vintage patterns?  What about for preserving them?  Some of the patterns are water damaged and especially delicate... about a third are unprinted, and have those holes punched in the tissue.  Does anyone have a good resource for deciphering unprinted patterns?  All advice and anecdotes are most welcome!

Monday, October 11, 2010

a quilt for Elvie

Nobody would know the baby's sex until it arrived, but I was sure all along it would be a girl.  Jessica's water broke, we spoke on the phone while she was waiting for the contractions to really begin and I started on the quilt that night.  Here it is:

Jessica and I have been sewing together for years and independently, even longer.  So as much as I loved my little collection of Wonderland fabric with all its sewing imagery, I knew I had to make it into a quilt for Jessica's little one.  Elvie was born the next day, and the quilt was finished a few weeks later.

This quilt is responsible for helping me rediscover my love for embroidery.  I remember working on some of it while staying  in a hotel during our first visit to Knoxville; I love a sewing project that can travel easily!

I pieced the backing and binding from fat quarters I got at the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show.  For those who aren't familiar, this fabric is near impossible to find in person, so I was thrilled to discover that another vendor was selling bundles of it.

The quilting was done by machine: first in the ditch around the square, then outlined by about 3/8-1/2" inch.  With all the pivoting at corners, it was a great use of my Bernina Free Hand System (that knee-lift thinger)!

I've been waiting to write this one for a while, thinking perhaps I would write a pattern or organize a sew-along based on Elvie's quilt.  Obviously that didn't come together, but if anyone is interested, I'd happily write a tutorial!  The block is quick to construct, and the step where you make it crooked is very fun.  Exciting, even!  So how about it?

And finally, I made coordinating bibs for Elvie, thinking she wouldn't really need them until she started eating solid food.  I was very wrong!  Apparently, babies are DROOLY.  Who knew?

Friday, October 8, 2010

a sartorial detour and story time

This is a photo of my Grama Dona around 1952.  She is holding my Aunt Debe and is pregnant with my Aunt Kathie.  My mom would be born several years later, the seventh of eight children.

My Grama is wearing a suit that she made.  I love the stripes and the purple lining--so sharp!  She sewed for many years on her grandmother's treadle machine before finally entering the modern age with an electric machine.  After sewing virtually everything for eight babies, Grama decided she was through with sewing and I can't blame her.  Her grandmother Ingeborg (my great-great-)  was a seamstress, a trade she learned in her native Norway and brought to upstate Minnesota in the 1890s. 

They were homesteaders, and lived for a number of years in a cabin built by my great-great grandfather.  Ingeborg had twelve children, so I imagine her sewing skills served her well.  She also played the harp and made hairpin lace, and baked a dozen loaves of bread three times a week.  Kind of my dream life, minus the twelve kids...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

sewn footwear

I really love handmade slippers.  Or room shoes, or house shoes, or whatever you call them.  They're so much cuter than your standard rubber-soled fuzzies!

I made these as a sample for the quilt shop where I once worked; they are the Favorite Things ballet slippers pattern.  A major bonus of this pattern is it is sized infant through adult!  I don't recall whether the adult sizes are according to shoe size or S/M/L.  I can tell you I wear a 7 and these are the tiniest big snug.  I made an  infant medium, and they were a snap!

I shoulda finished the seam inside but what the heck.  Sometimes, life is too short.  Other times, you don't read the directions all the way before declaring yourself finished!

These sew up relatively quickly and would make great gifts!  If you choose to do either of the two strap variations, invest in a turn-all tool.  If I were to make these again, I would probably just make straps by cutting a strip 4 times the desired finished width, then press the strip in half the long way, and press the raw long edges to the center.  Edgestitch and you're done!

Here are a couple of links to past room shoe sewing projects.  Happy sewing!
*Note: I used Jiffy Grip for the soles.  It's nice and seems to be more durable than scrap denim.